BabelOn is a new speech and language synthesis technology that is currently looking to attract backers on Indiegogo. In simple terms, this is a new translation option. Although, this is one which is certainly less traditional than what you will currently find on the market. While there are a number of apps and services that offer direct translation of narrative, BabelOn sums up its ethos quite distinctly by stating that it “is not about words... it's about voice.” As, in essence, BabelOn is not looking to be a service which lets you type in a phase or a sentence and have it translated, or read back to you by an artificial third-person voice. Instead, BabelOn is looking to capture your words, along with your voice, and translate the whole package into another language. Including the emotion, tone, and even the movements of the mouth. All of this data is collected and then translated into another language and presumably, any language of the speaker’s choosing.
While this is an approach that offers some immediate benefits for those looking to speak in another language, there are some wider and more universal possibilities with such a technology. As part of the fundraising process, BabelOn has released a new video which demonstrates one such example. Imagine turning on the TV to check the weather and instantly being able to choose the language you want to hear the weather in. Not just translating the weatherperson’s narrative, but having their voice speak the words, while adopting all the mannerisms and voice nuances that are unique to them. Same goes for listening to a singer sing, an actor speak, or a politician setting out their agenda.
This is where BabelOn hopes it can offer something different. As the company also highlights that the actual words someone says is only a small fraction of what is actually being said. Communication are often more emotional-based and BabelOn is looking to bring to the table an option which accounts for those emotions, providing a much fuller and richer level of communication, and in any language. The technology relies on what BabelOn refers to as a “Blip” (BabelOn Language Information Profile). This is constructed by the user reading select texts with different emotional textures. From there, the technology learns the “unique visual-vocal and audio fingerprint” and converts it into the new language. At the personal level, the company even suggests that in the future your virtual assistant, a la Google Assistant, could make use of the technology to adopt your own voice, instead of the generic virtual assistant’s voice. Although this is something that might be some time off as the development plan by the company is a long term plan. In the meantime though, BabelOn is open to backers.